Police have their focus on new drivers this month

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June 9, 2015 8:15 AM

New drivers and motorcyclists in Saskatchewan will be on the police radar this month as law enforcement will be paying particular attention to people who aren’t following the restrictions detailed in the GDL (graduated driver’s licence) and MGDL (motorcycle graduated driver’s licence) programs.

A committee of law enforcement members and SGI officials, who determine a different focus for each month of the year, designated June as the first time ever to sharpen their eyes for inexperienced motorists.

“We know that new drivers are over-represented when it comes to collisions, meaning if you look at collision rates and compare rates of different age groups, it’s the young drivers that have a higher collision rate,” said Kelly Brinkworth, SGI’s manager of media relations.

Some of the restrictions under the GDL program include no cellphone use while driving, no more passengers than the number of seat belts, having the supervision of an experienced driver, absolutely no alcohol in the blood system and if driving between the hours of midnight and 5 a.m., all passengers must be immediate family members.

Being that there are different stages of the program - Learner 1, Novice 1 and Novice 2 - some of the restrictions fall off as one advances. Some of them, like the zero blood alcohol content, however, apply to all three stages.

For motorcyclists in the MGDL program there are some newer restrictions that came in effect last year along with some other traffic law changes in the province.

“One is that they have to wear protective gear at all times and that includes an approved helmet,” said Brinkworth. “They have to have their arms and legs covered, they have to wear finger covering gloves and ankle covering boots and then another requirement is to display the placard on the back of their licence plate. A red L for “learner” or green N for “novice.”

Brinkworth recommends new drivers get as much practice as possible, especially for those just starting out, and motorcyclists should take an approved training course to get some experience before they start riding.

In a recent press release, Ken Claffey, driver education manager with Saskatoon public schools, echoed this sentiment, saying, “Practice is essential. The nine-month learner stage is not just to prepare the new driver to pass a road test - it’s to prepare them to be a safe driver and stay alive on the road.”

Claffey suggests parents start teaching their children road safety habits at an early age. He said if kids learn the rules of the road as young pedestrians and cyclists, the safety habits can help them become a safer, more aware driver when they’re older.

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